Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Skeetkill Creek Marsh Park, An Urban Wilderness

From Richard DeKorte Park to the Mill Creek Marsh Trail, every section of the Meadowlands is unique, distinct to its plants and wildlife that depend on that habitat for their subsistence and survival. But some of these unique environments are much less known or recognized than the others. One such park is Skeetkill Creek Marsh in the Borough of Ridgefield .

Driving past the seemingly endless rows of warehouses, along old railroad tracks, and every other blacktopped, steel and stone specimenof densely industrial development that Bergen County has to offer, one has to wonder where one might find the Meadowlands among the concrete wilderness of this small town?

But just as you might be inclined to make a U-turn and give up the quest you cruise down (appropriately enough) Pleasantview Drive and arrive at an enchanting refuge among the cars and commercialism.Small in size but no less important to the birds, butterflies and flowers that call it home, you are at Skeetkill Creek Marsh park

Skeetkill is a 16.3-acre site that was donated to the Meadowlands Conservation Trust in 2008    by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and has been improved as a result of an enhancement project that included the creation of tidal channels, open water, low marsh habitat, and upland islands, which produced diverse habitats to return wildlife to the marsh.

I was first introduced to Skeetkill about 10 years ago while conducting a Heron survey. It was great fun to put out my folding chair, grab my clipboard and binoculars,and sit back and watch nature perform the best reality show in the world. In addition to the Herons and Egrets, raptors, shorebirds, waterfowl and warblers utilize the wetlands and surrounding diverse marsh habitat.

My personal claim to fame is having a rare December Baltimore Oriole on the Christmas Bird Count at the Marsh. But perhaps my favorite reason to visit Skeetkill is the diverse numbers of Sparrow species that can be found there. I saw my first Lincolns Sparrow there many years ago as I walked the dense, grassy trail that parallels the marsh. Fox , Field , Swamp and Savannah are among the many sparrows that can be found depending on the season.

Skeetkill Creek Marsh is a prime example of how habitat can be restored and managed to benefit both wildlife and the people that enjoy and appreciate having an urban wilderness in their community. Pay a visit to this little urban oasis and witness firsthand how every acre we preserve and protect in the Meadowlands is critical not only to our wildlife but to our own quality of life.

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